Talks between SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood studios to end the ongoing actors strike may have broken down, but guild members are “more empowered and emboldened than ever,” according to The Rolling Stone.
Actors have been striking for almost 100 days and appear to have no intention of stopping. Negotiations had been restarted for less than two weeks following two months of no communication when the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, AMPTP, declared the “gap” between the two parties was “too great.”
Actors are demanding a new streaming residual formula of $500 million, but the AMPTP is only willing to pay $20 million, making said “gap” $480 million.
Hope that momentum from the since-resolved writers strike helping actors and studios find common ground appears to be diminishing.
“I think the Writers Guild contract provides a nice blueprint for what we might begin conversations around, but we also have a lot of other categories of workers and there’s a lot of other considerations,” Brendan Bradley, a strike captain at Paramount and SAG-AFTRA member, told The Rolling Stone.
Enter the A-listers
Major names in Hollywood like George Clooney, Emma Stone, Ben Affleck, Tyler Perry, and Scarlett Johansson have reportedly brought a “bold” proposal to SAG-AFTRA leaders. The group of A-list celebrities suggested that the guild remove the cap on dues for high-earning members in order to put more funds towards the union’s budget over the next three years, according to Deadline.
“We’re grateful that a few of our most successful members have engaged to offer ideas and support,” SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee said in a statement. “[T]heir creativity and earnest desire to help solve the impasse are very much appreciated.”
Reports said A-list stars are willing to pay more than their share of union dues – currently capped at $1 million in earnings – to help bridge the gap between SAG-AFTRA’s $500 million streaming residual formula and the $20 million the AMPTP is willing to pay.
The proposal also reportedly aims to get lower-income members paid in residuals first.
The viewer migration to streaming services has impacted how entertainment industry workers get paid and not for the better. Streamed shows have fewer episodes and longer breaks between seasons in comparison to broadcast TV series, resulting in smaller paychecks for writers. There are also far fewer residuals, or those checks paid out to writers and actors after the show airs.
In addition to recalculated residuals, actors are striking for more contributions to pension and healthcare funds as well as changes to the “abusive” self-taping audition process and, like writers, protection against the use of AI.
SAG-AFTRA said “the generous concept is worthy of consideration,” but the revenue and subscription sharing model is just one piece of the strike’s puzzle.
“The AMPTP continues to refuse to counter many of our absolutely vital proposals including the minimum wage rates that our membership are on strike to achieve,” the committee said. “So, for now, we encourage all members to champion our full proposal package and get out on the picket line.”
Rules for Halloween while on strike
Unless representatives for SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP return to the bargaining table in the next 12 days, it’s likely guild members will still picketing on Halloween. The union has issued guidelines for what members can and cannot wear as to not “inadvertently break strike rules.”
The organization encouraged members not to dress up in (or post photos on social media) costumes inspired by “struck” content.
“Let’s use our collective power to send a loud and clear message to our struck employers that we will not promote their content without a fair contract,” the guild’s Halloween guidelines read.
That means you likely won’t see any Barbie, Wednesday Addams, or Marvel superheroes on the picket line at the end of the month.
Despite writers being back to work, the ongoing actors strike means production is still halted on many shows and movies.
So far, the motion picture and sound recording industries have lost 17,000 jobs “reflecting strike activity,” according to an employment report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Warner Bros. Discovery alone warned it could lose up to $500 million in adjusted earnings for 2023 amid the strikes.
Until a deal is reached, we’re likely to see more job and financial loss juxtaposed against increasingly rare box office sensations like Barbie and Oppenheimer.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect SAG-AFTRA’s October 19 update.